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British Telecom Blocks Access to Child Porn Sites

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the this-is-scary-stuff dept.

Censorship 835

An anonymous reader writes "British Telecom has taken the unprecedented step of blocking all illegal child pornography websites in a crackdown on abuse online. The decision by Britain's largest high-speed internet provider will lead to the first mass censorship of the web attempted in a Western democracy."

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Foot in the door (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349764)

What worries me is this could be a foot in the door situation.. It is hard to justify the first ones but then easier for future blocks. P0rn, Warz, Hax all could be disappearing from a website near you!

Re:Foot in the door (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349771)

and this can't be a bad thing, except for regular p0rn maybe

Re:Foot in the door (3, Interesting)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349773)

Porn runs the WC3, the net officals.

iit wont get blocked.

BUT it is a good thing, this means that no one can, ACCIDENTLY go onto a child porn site. Something which i've always feared tbh. As even temporary files can be concidered as stored information. Accidently finding such a site "could" get you into alot of trouble.

For once BT have done something good!.

Re:Foot in the door (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349777)

Since child pornography is indisputably illegal, is there anything wrong with this? (granted, many of the other things you've mentioned are indisputably illegal also, and while having them taken down would be a great inconvenience to me, i wouldn't see such an action as an unconscionable abuse of power).

Re:Foot in the door (5, Insightful)

ftzdomino (555670) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349785)

It's unlikely that an ISP will survive if they block all porn.

Re:Foot in the door (3, Insightful)

MikeS2k (589190) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349787)

Yeah, this is where it starts.
Soon those Anti-BT websites will mysteriously stop working, then who knows what else.

It makes it easier for NTL and other companies to introduce censorship, now that they know they're not the first.

Re:Foot in the door (3, Interesting)

Ianoo (711633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349822)

Well, consentual adult pornography is legal in the UK, but you're right, if BT intends to block illegal material, I can see that pirate software, pirate music and pirate videos could be the next logical step.

Is this a good thing? Well, not for those of us who like our music and movies for free, but as far as companies are concerned, it probably is, although presumably they could lose a lot of business if they started blocking P2P.

IIRC, several of the UK's mobile phone providers announced they were going to block all porn for mobile internet access unless the phone owner submitted proof of age. I can't help but wonder how many people would have the nerve to ring up customer support and ask for their porn access to be restored ;)

Re:Foot in the door (3, Interesting)

dyefade (735994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349841)

I wouldn't be worried. While the potential is there, child porn really is an exception to the rule. There have been huge police campaigns to try to remove child porn (and catch the perpetrators) in the UK. This isn't comparable to regular (nb legal) porn or other illegal materials. Child porn is considered a heinous crime and so is not tolerated anywhere. Warez and porn are largely more accepted.

Re:Foot in the door (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349851)

If hax, warez, illegal movie en music trading goes out the door... that wouldn't be a problem to me. It's illegal anyway, so they are right to tackle that issue.

If they start cencoring politically hot blogs/sites and limit freedom of speech, then I would have a BIG problem with it. If you can't say what you want on the net that isn't inherently illegal, then all is lost.

Re:Foot in the door (1)

ReallyNiceGuy (721792) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349915)

I think I'm being redundant, but...

Give us the OPTION to turn these kinds of filtering on or off. That is A Good Thing(tm) to do. Don't choose for us.
Child porn is unacceptable for all of us that are a bit racional, but enforcing censorship is not the way. And it will not work, anyway. There is always a way to circunvent the system...

Is this a good idea? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349768)

No shit, it's a good idea.

Just because child pornographers will find other means of getting their porn (xeroxing it at 7-11 for one), it doesn't mean that we should give them MORE alternatives.

Shut the fuckers down. Have any IPs that hit child porn sites logged and investigated.

Child pornographers have forfeited their rights.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

kristaps.kaupe (784876) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349783)

I believe too that this is good idea. But I don't believe they can block _all_ child porno sites (AFAIK they're blocking access to specific URLs).

Who is to decide? And what comes next.? (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349888)

And what about the first legit child abuse support site they block? Do they get blocked and shut down too?

Or next month, when its another 'crime against society' they decide to block?

There goes free speech out the window. Don't get me wrong KP *IS* wrong, but you don't deal with it this way, by beginning the process of restricting speech, as once you start, its far to easy to add another item to the 'unapproved knowledge' list out of political pressure.

Ever hear of the Salem witch trials in America? This is similar to how that got started: People in power, imposing their twisted views of right and wrong on others.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Insightful)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349911)

But, there's a difference between taking actions whose target is the pornographers (shutting the sites down) and taking actions whose target is the general public (blocking access).

Plus, I don't understand why it's so wrong that child pornography gets exchanged. Obviously, the creation of the images in the first place is bad, but, by banning the exchange of them in addition to the creation, we're creating a legal taboo and sending a message, saying that, if you like pictures of naked kids, then, Houston, we have a problem.

What about sites like, for people who like pictures of violence and decay? Shouldn't those images be illegal, too? Some of them are photographic evidence of criminal acts!

I don't think it's really appropriate to declare any private exchange of information illegal, ever. I don't think it's really appropriate for the government to interfere much with what property a person can own and what they can do with it. It's all paranoia. If someone wants to have guns and bombs, maybe they should be watched carefully, but the key point is, have they caused any harm to anyone or anything else yet, by merely having those items?

Maybe they just like pyrotechnics *shrug*. I know I've made gunpowder and little film-canister explosives, with the intent to detonate them just for fun, without causing harm to anyone else. Sure, maybe detonating them without a pyrotechnics license would still be a very bad idea (because then there's no guarantee I have proper training), but, if I had a license to do something dangerous, there's no reason I shouldn't be allowed to do it.

Nobody ever said freedom was an easy thing.

I suggest that anybody who believes in freedom like I do move out and colonize some area with me. We'll set up a country centered around freedom..

Oh wait! They already did that, it's called the U.S. of A. But then why does said country have so many laws prohibiting so many types of possessions and a few types of speech?

Re:Is this a good idea? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349919)

On the other hand it is bad for slashdot, a child-porn haven and a primary destination for pathetic faggots

Re:Is this a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349937)

Have any IPs that hit child porn sites logged and investigated.

What happens if the person who was using the IP accidently hit a child porn site. On Slashdot there have been kiddie porn links posted by trolls. I think it should be IPs that have hit the site multiple times should be investigated.

Blocking Child Porn (1, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349770)

Sounds good enough to me. I can't think of any reason why this alone isn't a bad thing.

You anti-everything-censorship people shut up, just because it's information doesn't mean it shouldn't be promoted or blocked for that childs' protection. Think if you found out by a cop that your kid was abused and his/her pic was online for pedo-freaks to masterbate to?

Makes your stomach twist doesn't it?

Re:Blocking Child Porn (2, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349792)

Makes my stomach twist too that someone putting up a site online that's not "correct" politically (government criticizing, for example) may be blocked by the only means possible; claiming it involves kiddieporn, and damn the consequences to the innocents running it.

It will happen.

nude anime gallery []

Re:Blocking Child Porn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349809)

Leave it to an anime freak to defend child pornography.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (3, Insightful)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349797)

It's not the child porn, it's more that this is potentially the first step on a slippery slope.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349871)

If you're always worried about the slippery slope, you'll end up with anarchy.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349918)

Slopes are only slippery when there's no friction. If you're truly concerned that someone will start censoring things without any checks placed upon them, then why don't you be a check and take some action if/when someone tries to take this the next step of blocking legal porn or political websites or, well, anything other than child porn.
Child porn is about as clear cut as a moral question can be, so let's applaud BT for trying to stop it, even if their method seems less efficient than logging visitors to such pages and then prosecuting them. The article says this list of sites has been around for a while, so there must be some barrier to just logging everyone and arresting them.
This article should only be concerned with "Your Rights Online" if you believe that watching kids have sex is one of your rights. That, however, does not seem to be the point being argued here.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349798)

It's wrong for exactly the reasons stated in the first post; next step is BT blocking other "illegal" sites, and then more and more sites, until we get to the point where content has to be ISP-approved before you can view it.

Although... how are they going to keep track of the sites? Surely they spring up every day and blocked sites can easily transfer their content to another, unblocked, server?

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0, Flamebait)

AoT (107216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349824)

Don't you know, kiddie-porn wants to be free?

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349831)

The problem here is not that child porn sites get taken down.

The problem is the precedent it sets in terms of ISP control.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (4, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349832)

one more thing..

i know tons of you will say things like "this is just the beginning, wait till they think they can do this again" and you're right. They can do more, but I can gaurentee it isn't as important as this by magnatudes! Seriously, I would rather have not one child be sexually abused for losing one of those "inaliable rights" everyone loves.

dont' get me wrong. I'm a bit worried myself about the abuse of this system, but for now it seems ok.

But let's be a politically aware and active bunch instead of bitchers and whiners and actually _DO_ something when it's wrong.

Blocking kiddie porn = Good
Being proactive against bad laws = Good
sitting on your ass in your mom's basement and complaining about losing rights when you have no clue how politics and laws work = bad

This isn't a troll, but seriously THINK about what powers we as citizens have (of whatever country you reside in). You CAN make a difference if you try hard enough. Martin Luther King never was what he became without hard work, dillegence and direction.

Sorry about replying to my own post, but I had to clear a few things up. I hope you guys don't see this as a rant but something insightful.

Just my 0.02

Re:Blocking Child Porn (5, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349839)

As a matter of fact, I have children. And my stomach would twist if I got to know that they were abused and their photos posted. But my stomach would be rotating if the police, instead of prosecuting the involved parties, is busily updating the webfilters.

One of the most important facts is: The child abuse was already done, when the pictures got posted. With the open web, potentially everyone can look into it and notice it. I don't want child abuse happen to anyone... But it being back in the dark rooms no one has access to is the worst. Bring it to light, so we know, there is a problem out there, and we can do something about. If it gets blocked, then it goes on unnotified.

Fact is: Since pictures of abused childs are aviable on the web, the number of childs killed in abuses has dropped remarkably in Germany. From 40 per year in the Eighties down to six last year. That's 34 children rescued.

Re:Blocking Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349860)

You nazi fuckwit.
Next you'll be saying "hurray American ISPs agreed among themselves not to allow access to pro-terrorist websites. You know al-Queda and the like. Who can possibly object to that". Then it will be "OK, the government says we can allow access to terrorist sympathiser sites: you know: Greenpeace, eco-activists. I guess thats OK on balance". Then its "Well they passed Patriot Act III making it a felony to allow access to unpatriotic sites. You know: Shit thats unreasonable, why did they think they could get away with that?"

All that crap about drugs/pedos/terrorism is just an excuse to implement a control. All the morons like you who think the loss of a little liberty for security deserve what's coming to you: the rest of us don't.

It's a crime (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349772)

It's a crime to block these services on the end user's side whilst leaving them at large on the internet; they should be taking them down at the source.

Re:It's a crime (1)

betelgeuse-4 (745816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349813)

Whilst your solution is highly desirable, the technical and legal issues involved make it very difficult to achieve. What BT are doing is a good start.

Re:It's a crime (4, Insightful)

Ianoo (711633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349849)

However, filtering is not without its pitfalls. I don't know how they're going to choose which sites to block, but it better not be via keywords. Otherwise you're invariably going to end up with false positives, and block perfectly legitimate sites because they contain unfortunate juxtapositions of words.

I can imagine situations, for example, where planned parenthood sites might get blocked because they have the words "children" and "sex" in close proximity. I wonder if BT has a plan to deal with kind of situation? My intution says "no".

What alternatives are there to keyword searching? Manually identifying sites? Who is going to do this, and isn't it a crime to download pages from such sites just to check whether they should be filtered?

Re:It's a crime (1)

T-Kir (597145) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349848)

+1 insightful, but I wanted to reply to you.

The other worry about this precident is that more potential resources are being targeted at the blocking (oh 'we' don't need to do anything, BT is doing it for us)... a bit like surgery after the event has actually happened, rather than using preventative methods. The sites will simply move or try other distro methods.

I can appreciate the idea that someone is actively doing this blocklist (rather than sit on thier collective asses), but there is the slippery slope aspect and with BT at the helm, that does concern me... but for one I'd rather more energy goes into taking down these bastards full stop.

Just my 2 pence.

Re:It's a crime (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349892)

Its no crime to block sites at the end users side. Read your ISPs service agreement. This is good thing to block it, the people who view this stuff are breaking the law as well. I agree though that they should get the people designing the sites as well. Tell me do you think its a crime to block spam from getting to the end user as well? That is the same concept.

Re:It's a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349895)

"they should be taking them down at the source."

That is unfortunately impossible. Spam has taken it toll in the net and nothing tangable is being done. The worst part is that the bulk of the spam originates from the US (or at least the spammers), and the government has introduced legistlations to protect the with the can-spam act. The same could happen for other content. If not in the US, may be another country.

Good motives but... (3, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349780)

Good motives here, but are there controls in place to ensure ONLY kiddieporn is banned by this method?

My fear if this came here is that it would be used to block all manner of 'improper' political sites.

Slippery slope.

nude anime gallery []

Re:Good motives but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349790)

You know, of course, that the slippery slope argument is classified as a logical flaw right?

Re:Good motives but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349811)

You know, of course, that the slippery slope argument is classified as a logical flaw right?

You too should know that no matter how much you want to logically define something as true, it happens in reality.

Explaining something away as a logical flaw might be fun philisophy but it's not relevant to fact, experience or reality.

Re:Good motives but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349826)

If you're attacking the basis of logic itself, is there any point to trying to hold a logical debate?

Re:Good motives but... (2, Interesting)

AoT (107216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349837)

Only if there isn't a good possibility of a slipery slope effect happening. Look at library filters right now. That was a slippery slope arguement and it was right on, way too much gets banned accidentally.

Re:Good motives but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349852)

True, but the line here seems pretty clear: child porn is illegal. Granted, many other things are also illegal (e.g., warez, appz), but while I would be greatly inconvenienced if these sites were blocked, I also wouldn't consider blocking them on legality grounds to be an inconscionable abuse of power.

Is this bad or good? (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349781)

Blocking child pornography is considered good by most, but is this the best step? What happens next, they block hardcore porn?

Re:Is this bad or good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349820)

Ghessh, it will be anarchy. The hard core porn will now be forced into magazines. What next....placed on racks in the convenience stores we all frequent? :-) We all have to draw a line somewhere between what is censorship and what is just "good" for society....I think killing child porn from the internet is a good place to start.

Re:Is this bad or good? (2, Informative)

Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349853)

> What happens next, they block hardcore porn?

It wouldn't suprise me - since in the UK hardcore porn _is_ actually illegal. They have a law that stipulates (and I'm not joking here) the maximum elevation an erect penis can be in porn flicks there.

Most full-frontal nudity is banned on television, and you can't really show acts of penetration.

So given that child porn is illegal, and what most mainland European's consider hardcore porn is illegal too - how long do you think........

P.S. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get Google to find a link to 'UK erection laws'. I really tried. I did.

Re:Is this bad or good? (-1, Offtopic)

zoloto (586738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349858)

Karma be damned...

That wouldn't be such a bad thing in itself either. Seeing women as objects dehumanizes them and you lose the respect for women you should have. To me, that's defiling women in a general sense and you really lose the ability to keep healthy relationships.

completely the wrong approach (2, Interesting)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349784)

Given that they have a list of sites to block, they should record every access to those sites, allow them to proceed and inform relevant authorities.Otherwise child pornography users will know that something is amiss and take measures to circumvent them. such as by using a proxy to access child porn.
Of course nothing stops them using a proxy to access child porn with my method, but seeing as the accessor would not be given any hints that anything is amiss, they would be unlikely to bother, after they have successfully accessed this material.

slippery slope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349786)

and first post, too

no different than the real world (5, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349788)

Before everyone does the kneejerk censorhip response, this seems no different than what goes on in real life. Access to child pornography is blocked in real life. Your local Kwik-E-Mart is not going to be carrying Russian Lolitas Monthly next to the Playboys and Penthouses. Nor should they.

The only issue to be concerned with is whether or not the list of blocked sites is accurate or not.

And of course, this will not stop the knowledgable pedophile, but if it can keep some companies from earning money via paid subscriptions, good for BT.

Agreed (1)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349881)

I totally agree with you. What we need to watch out for is that other, non-criminal websites are not blocked. It's okay to block websites that have *criminal* content, but I would have to draw the line at that. The UK has to protect their citizens, and if it means blocking access to child porn, that is fine by me. Imagine you have a teenage boy who fills up your PC with lolita images, and *you* get arrested.

Re:no different than the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349925)

I'm paying for a full internet access. And I want it.

No matter what the fuck is "out there", I want my own IP and a direct connection to it.

They should concentrate in prosecuting the bastards that put that child porn on the internet.

Re:no different than the real world (1)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349938)

And of course, this will not stop the knowledgable pedophile, but if it can keep some companies from earning money via paid subscriptions, good for BT.

Surely it would make more sense to track the payments and thus catch the punters, rather than just forcing them to become a little more knowledgable.

ISTM that the internet has done us all a favour by bringing much of this kind of stuff out of secretive meetings in back rooms into a public place. Rather than going `urgh, this is nasty' and driving it back, we should be going `aha, gotcha!'.

What I don't understand is why the credit card companies are allowed to go on supporting this market. All it takes is one investigator putting in a subscription to trace that back to the real company which puts through the credit card payment, at which point all CC companies in all legitimate jurisdictions should be able to drop that company and put their whole set of sites out of business.

Do that and the commercial side of the industry is, effectively, dead.

Take the information the CC companies must collect from companies under the money laundering laws, and you have a starting place for investigators to track back to the actual abusers.

I can only assume that the CC companies have too much political pull and don't want to lose a profitable market segment.

banning (1)

DoctorDeath (774634) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349794)

This is a good step on their behave, if it only blocks the child porn sites. But there is a lot of sites that say they do not allow child porn, that still have the occasional few get by. Will they be banned also or will they slip through because they say they don't allow it? I have seen sites with the errant post that just got by. And then again there are alot of sites that say no children, but in reality that is all there is on the site. I wish them luck, this sounds like a major headache to enforce.

Tough one to fight against (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349801)

The first step down the slippery slope. It's a tough one to fight-- no sane person would have any sympathy for these peddlers of child pornography. So it becomes acceptable to censor.

What comes next, terrorist websites? Better make those mirrors of straight away.


blindbat (189141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349803)

Tell me why this is bad by defending child pornography and leave the cries of censorship out of it. There are worse things than censorship.

Typo? (4, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349805)

attempted in a Western democracy.

Shouldn't that read "attempted by a large ISP"? Could this result in mass-migration to other services, or are no others viable? As an aside, are cable modems available in Britain?

I do think this is a slippery slope, especially since "pornography" is always hard to define... Are "innocent" shots of (semi)naked teens on Scandinavian beaches "porn", for instance? Who decides?

Re:Typo? (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349821)

Assuming they are blocking it as an ISP not as an underlying ADSL infrastructure provider, there are a whole host of (better) options available. If you want to completely avoid BT, then Cable is available in some areas.

Re:Typo? (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349864)

In most countries, the ISP is the ADSL infrastructure provider.

THe setup the US had with regional ADSL providers who resell to ISPs and all that convoluted nonsense (which didn't work) hasn't been mirrored, well, anywhere as far as I know.

Re:Typo? (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349909)

In the UK, BT owns all the (non-cable) phone lines and hence owns the ADSL infrastructure (traceroute shows that my first hop is a * address). But it allows ISPs to offer ADSL services effectively on top of BT's infrastructure.

Re:Typo? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349830)

As an aside, are cable modems available in Britain?

No. In jolly old Britian, the best we have is 300bps modems. I would write more, but it would take too long to upload.

Cable in the UK (1)

topynate (694371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349847)

I'm using one right now. NTL is my provider. BT is being very AOLish in its advertising etc. at the moment, so I'm not sure if NTL will follow suit, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Re:Cable in the UK (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349901)

BT in general are trying to clone AOL, for some god-forsaken reason, what with their "own" browser (ie. IE activeX component), merging OpenWorld with Yahoo! (ugh!!!) etc. etc.

Re:Typo? (4, Insightful)

RogueProtoKol (577894) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349857)

First off, yes, we have cable modems in Britain.

The low down on British Telecoms is as so, you have 3 major telecoms providers, BT, NTL and Telewest. BT are everywhere, NTL and Telewest have fairly large areas, some you can only get one or the other, but you can always get BT.

Now, BT are the major ADSL provider, NTL and Telewest are the cable providers. As stated in the article, BT have alot of ADSL resellers eg Yahoo! who according to the artcle, would come under this.

If you want to leave BT, this leaves you with either most likely NTL or Telewest for cable, or switch to another ADSL provider. There are quite a few ADSL providers, if you already have ADSL through BT it should be perfectly possible to come off BT and the pricing is pretty competitive.

However, even though there is an OK range of choice, I doubt we'll see any mass anti-censorship protest of people switching from BT as to the majority, you'll just look like you're against BTs efforts to clean up child pornography, and with alot of recent paedophile news over the last few years, you won't be very popular.

Re:Typo? (2, Informative)

Jutral (558241) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349894)

Unless the United States doesn't count as a Western democracy, this is far from news. Pennsylvania has had a similar law on the books now for a few years initiating such blocking. Child porn sites--including some evil XVID codec download pages and I'm sure numerous other innocent sites--are required to be blocked by Pennsylvanian ISPs. I'd know; I run into sites that I can't load directly, but can through a proxy.

The Register: Pennsylvania child porn law causes 'massive overblocking of sites' []

IANAL yadda yadda yadda... (4, Interesting)

Inf0phreak (627499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349806)

Filtering content that is illegal no matter how you look at it is fine with me, but then they also have to accept that if they fail to filter a page, they should be liable for damages (and possibly criminal charges).

The door swings both ways.

Re:IANAL yadda yadda yadda... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349829)

Yeah, I was wondering about this. Don't they lose "common carrier" status or something, and doesn't that imply that they have to know *everything* that's passing over their network or risk some major legal problems? Might make me uneasy about being a customer there, if I wanted privacy for completely legal reasons.

Re:IANAL yadda yadda yadda... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349859)

I'll disagree. A general responsibility of the police is to prevent crime if possible. They won't sit idly by and watch some sod get beat to death. But that doesn't make them responsible for every murder they failed to prevent.

Re:IANAL yadda yadda yadda... (4, Insightful)

dyefade (735994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349879)

What? No way! They're only going to filter known sites. It's not BT's job to go looking for child porn just so they can block it. What if a new website was put up, and BT users accessed it before BT managed to filter it? BT should NOT be held repsonsible then.

Child Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349814)

What happens when someone uploads it to geocities? Does all of geocities get blocked? What if it is shared hosting... do all of the accounts on that ip get blackholed?

I hate to do it but... (5, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349815)

I'm going to side with freedom of speech (and thereby child pornography on the internet.) I in no way approve of or condone child pornography. I think it's disgusting the way that some people get off by exploiting children too young to fully understand the consequences of their actions. However, censorship is a slippery slope. Once we allow the child pornographers to be blocked, what's stopping them from taking the next step and censoring all they deem obscene? What about outlawing anonymous forums because they facilitate obscenity? How long until you have to get your sites white-listed by ISPs to even be viewed in the UK or any other nation that follows this same path?

I'm not insane, just concerned. I say fight the problem of child pornography (etc..) from the other end. Arrest the people, not the websites and protocols.

Re:I hate to do it but... (2, Insightful)

dtio (134278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349883)

> I say fight the problem of child pornography
>(etc..) from the other end. Arrest the people,
> not the websites and protocols.

But this *is* fighting child pornography. By putting barriers to the potential demand you're actually affecting the offer.

I'm willing to lose some of my 'rights online' if I can improve the 'rights offline' of some children by accepting this kind of measures even with the risk of potential misuses.

No problem with me.

Re:I hate to do it but... (2, Insightful)

Zzeep (682115) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349900)

It is quite simple; child pornography is illegal. So there is nothing wrong with blocking access to illegal material. I'd even say it is their duty. Pornography in itself is not illegal, hence when they will block access to pornography or other things they deem inappropriate they will get sued and they lose. So I really don't see a slippery slope.

The Solution (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349903)

It's called Freenet [] , which has already gone under fire because pedos have realized it also.

After a long wait, and a lot of luck, freenet *might* run for you, and take up all your CPU while it's at it. But at least it's a step toward stopping government censorship.

Slippery Slope is a lame argument (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349917)

There are lots of things that are banned in the physcial world - "Fire!" in a crowded theater, kiddie porn, etc. There is no reason that these actvities should not be blocked in the electronic world as well.

It isn't like societies that profess "free speech" haven't been dealing with the question of where to draw the line for 200+ years. New media takes a bit of time to figure out where to draw the line. That doesn't mean that a line can't be draw somewhere. At some point I full expect to see a court decision or two that I disagree with. I also expect that a reasonable set of rules will eventually be established.

Re:I hate to do it but... (2, Insightful)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349927)

I'm going to side with freedom of speech (and thereby child pornography on the internet.) I in no way approve of or condone child pornography.

Did you read what you just wrote before you posted it?

Let me run it by you again, with a bit of clever editing to make what you said just that much more obvious:

I am going to side with child pornography on the internet. I in no way approve of or condone child pornography.

It tastes like hypocracy, doesn't it. Now choosing a side here is a no-win game, so I'm not going to. But make sure you clearly understand that your 'free speech' means unlimited access to 'snuff films', 'rape films' and 'child abuse films' on the internet, just as much as it means unlimited access to 'some dude over in Iraq posting about how bad things are'.

Is it worth it?

Re:I hate to do it but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349942)

Of course it's worth it. Freedom is worth more than the "harm" done by any of the kind of pictures you mentioned.

If ever there was a time ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349816)

for some pr0n sites to remove the 16,000 flashing banners saying "BARELY LEGAL!!" it would be now.

The slipery slope? (0, Troll)

DWXXV (784152) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349819)

I am fine with bocking child porn but what next? Will the block anti gov speach?

They block web sites but... (3, Informative)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349827) about newsgroups? IRC? FTP? There are alot more distrbution methods available to those who traffic in this type of material, and believe me, the ones you should be worried about are not the ones who are "surfing the web" to get it either. -S-

Re:They block web sites but... (1)

rtt (770388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349896)

I completely agree - and this censorship will only push more of this material onto those more difficult to track distribution methods (such as IRC, newsgroups, etc etc).

Go BT. (5, Insightful)

topynate (694371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349835)

If they can do that without any slowdown, good on them. However, presumably they aren't saying what they're blocking, exactly. There's a problem with this, because if customers don't know they can't assure themselves that their internet usage isn't being unreasonably censored. But if you publish a list of illegal websites, that increases the ease with which anyone can find them (and alerts the owners of these websites that they are being monitored). So, while I can't deny that I'm glad these sites are being blocked, I don't think they should be - it's unworkable from a more general freedom of expression perspective.

The alterative is trusting a government body that you have real freedom of information rights. Say no more.

WTF? (5, Insightful)

Ratso Baggins (516757) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349836)

Where on earth is child porn legal, such that these sites can't be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law?

So I'm more that a little concerned the "solution" is to ban urls... wtf?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349906)

I suppose somewhere in eastern Asia and I don't think it would be China. IIRC in Japan I think you can draw children involved in sexual acts, but I could be wrong.

Not the first attempt (5, Informative)

tmk (712144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349840)

The decision by Britain's largest high-speed internet provider will lead to the first mass censorship of the web attempted in a Western democracy.

No, it is not the first case. Remember blocking child porn in pennsylvaia? Have a look here [] .

In North Rhine-Westfalia all providers have to block access to two Nazi websites: look here [] .

Re:Not the first attempt (1)

spacefight (577141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349893)

Not to forget Switzerland where ISPs have to block access to some nazi sites as well. Some provider even restricted access to for no obvious reason.

Not good. (5, Interesting)

mwillems (266506) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349845)

We can all sympathise with not wanting access to pedo sites, bomb-making instructions and anti-jewish hate sites. But there are, I think, several reasons why this is not at ALL a good thing.

a) Practical reasons. How on earth are they going to decide which sites are child porn sites? Do these sites announce themselves as such with a special logo? Or will the government employ 1,000 people who search google all day for new sites? Or will all sites that refer to "child" and "vagina" in the same sentence be blocked (I guess that includes nudist sites and anti-childporn sites as well)? For these practical reasons and many more, this idea will not be practical.

b) The slippery slope. OK, child porn is obviously bad. And so is antisemitism. And bomb making. So, the PLO site is soon to be banned too? All newsgroups that ever discuss bombs? Sites that sell radar detectors? Web sites taht discuss and encourage tax cheating? Anti-government sites? Exam cheat sites? When you accept that the government can decide what we are allowed to read online, this is a dangerous state of affairs.

c) Drawing attention bad. It will no doubt make it a challenge to get to the forbidden sites.

Censorship has never worked. My kids watch only shows that are rated "mature". While I sympathise with the intention here, the idea of a wise government that bans access to information is one that has never worked in the past and will not work now. It seems to me that enforcing existing laws against child porn (producers, viewers) would be a much better course of action; one more likely to lead to real results.

Re:Not good. (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349945)

Actually child porn is bad because (to put it lightly) the people in it have been abused and its pretty obvious they themselves wouldn't want it all over the net. Bomb making instructions are indirectly availiable in most chemistry books and nuclear weapons are no secret in physics books. Conspiring to bomb/kill is illigal and probably insiting violence is illigal too. Antisemitism AFAIK basically means "talking negatively about israel" which is like a special form of racism that only applies to one country? im not trolling im just pointing it out.

Filtering content is NOT illegal (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349854)

I'm sorry, but all these comments about a slippery slope are off track. They're not taking away rights - they're finally blocking content that you NEVER had a right to view in the first place. Outside of the internet, there is a clear division between kiddie porn and political speech/you name it - both moral and legal.

Some slashdoters seem to have a view that the internet is a realm where all information should be free and available. This is bullshit. If, for example, my personal medical records became avaiable there, I'd be pissed. This is yet another example of information that you have no right to have in the first place. There would be nothing wrong with shuting down a site that listed everyone's the medical history. Same case with the kiddie porn. I'm sorry, but anybody making an argument that filtering all content is illegal should have NO expectations of privacy. RIAA/cops/evil twin want your fingerprints? No problem, that resturant you ate at can put them online(hosted, of course, in a 3rd world country with at best lax law enforcement) - filtering content is, after all, illegal.

The only concern is that they have measures in place to unblock a site that is blocked in error, and that they make a best-effort attempt to minimize the number of errors.

Re:Filtering content is NOT illegal (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349935)

Your confused. Nobody is suggesting that shutting down these sites is wrong. All we are saying is ISPs should NOT be doing the censorship, it is not their place and can lead to other things being blocked.

There is this lobby of concerned citizens in the UK at the moment trying to get 'Violent Porn' made illegal. Just makes you think, that someone play-acting violent scenes (like matrix, and hundreds of other films) but with any adult content could be made illegal. They want to see everything from rape to whips banned.

DAMN! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349861)


I have a better idea (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349862)

Why doesn't British Telecom simply hand over the details of anyone accessing these child pornography sites to the police?

Censorship in this case might be with the best intentions, but the precedent and future problems it creates is immense.

What will they block next?
- How to build a bong.
- How build a petrol bomb.
- How to make your car street illegal.
- How to hack your ipod.

All these things were blocked in China when I lived there.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349863)

Do these companies have guys that sit around all day and look for this shit?

And if so, I wonder if they are pedophiles(sp?) themselves. Like, wouldn't that be a good job for one, cause he can say.. "uhh, but its my job to look for this stuff so we can block it!"

Just a thought O_o.

Okay, I have just one problem with this (4, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349880)

The sites are still there! Okay, so you can't see them. The out of site out of mind attitude is not going to help. Kids are still going to be abused. Find out who hosts the sites, shut them down, and arrest the owners!

In fact, people seem to be missing what the actual problem is here. It's not that people download it (not that that's a good thing). The main problem is that people create it in the first place. That is the part that does the most harm.

Re:Okay, I have just one problem with this (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349932)

In fact, people seem to be missing what the actual problem is here. It's not that people download it (not that that's a good thing). The main problem is that people create it in the first place. That is the part that does the most harm.

People create it, because there is demand for it. Both sides are quilty. One for creating content, other for creating demand.

not a good idea (5, Insightful)

nagboy (785944) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349885)

i dont think this is a very smart idea, not as much from the free speach perspective, but from a law enforcement point of view. the only thing that will happen is that this kind of material will be distributed in other less transparent ways.

Every major child-porn bust in both western europe and the US has linked the end users with the web sites via their credit card, this is a good way both to bust end-users and to get a good statistical overview of the problem.

Also if the sites are actually on the web it is also much easier for law enforcement to trace people / places where this kind of material originates.

I mean, it would become a nightmare scenario for law enforcement if every end-user of child porn actually took the step and started downloading / posting everything anonymously w/PGP encryption on usenet or other message boards, it would be close to impossible to monitor and no credit card to trace.

just my two cents

Filtering is the wrong way (3, Insightful)

tmk (712144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349897)

but removing this content is the right way. Every single state on this planet has laws against child pornography.

Most illegal pictures the Britons found were on webservers in the USA. You can find data here [] . In USA are laws against child porn. You can remove the content.

pig fuckers (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349898)

For fucks sake what is wrong with these people!? can they not just refuse to host these sites, inform other ISP's in other countries, arrest the pedophiles!? Censorship of anything whatsoever is just wrong period and now i have to go and boycott BT. If they dont want this stuff on the net then fine, take it down, but blocking it is a totally different thing and unfortunately i dont think the public understands this. I swear this country is not going to turn into fucking backwards china.

Oh no Censorship in the name of childrens (1)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349908)

The dynamic nature of internet makes censorship absolutely useless ; today BT blocks 100 child porn site, tomorrow 200 more pop up somewhere else or some new technology/idea will make them harder to trace.

Not only is this attempt utterly useless, but it also supports the concept that censorship is the answer to internal security problems ; in other words , they're selling security by obscurity for the marketing purpose of showing they're "concerned". While people who are very concerned by child pornography may consider a good sane sex education as an alternative, far reaching solution to the issue.

Fuck your foot (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9349920)

I'm sick of you 'slippery slope' assholes. The simple truth is that there is _no_ slippery slope. There never has been and there never will be. You clowns talk like it is a law of the universe.

If there is a 'slippery slope' then legislative democracy is an unworkable charade; it would be impossible to govern a third of a billion people. But America seems to have been doing just that for 250 years, thank you. We've even managed to roll back some bad laws-uphill on your asinine little slope.

The thought that, if a legislator votes for A he/she will inevitably _have_ to vote for Z is a fraud and an intellectual embarassment. They voted like that because they chose to; not because the fabric of the universe made it necessary. Any legislator who thinks, let alone acts, like that is treasonous, ignorant, or on the take. He/she is certainly unfit to serve in a country created by the likes of Jefferson, Paine and Adams.

Then again, most of us Americans are unfit to live in such a country.

Very Frightening Possibilities (5, Insightful)

One Childish N00b (780549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349931)

A lot of people are screaming about how banning child pornography cannot possibly be twisted into A Bad Thing, but it is not child pornography that this debate really centres on.

The issue most people have is a large corporation having sway over what it's users can and can't view.
It's not just child porn, what happens if someone posts anti-BT comments or messages? I've seen enough companies censor their support forums by banning users and deleting posts that criticise their service, do we really want a company able to censor the entire internet? the 'net is one of the few havens of totally free speech availible, and if BT is given the power to block one sort of site, then they will use it as a 'test case' to gain the right to block other kinds of sites.

Next will go the anti-government sites. Websites that criticise the government, simply blocked from view thanks to BT. Then regular porn sites. Scream at me to say I've got my tinfoil hat on over this, but all I see is a large corporation taking it's first tentative steps towards 'sanitizing' the internet. Blocking child pornography is just the start - the company can block child porn and live safe in the knowledge that anyone who objects will be labelled a paedophile or a supporter of child pornography. Then they can start sliding other categories onto their block lists, safe in the knowledge that anyone who objects to it will get the full wrath of the following knee-jerk reaction:

"Oh so you don't like internet censorship, then, do you? what do you want, then, you want kiddie porn all over the place then? is that what you want!" - BT looks good by proxy of public hysteria.

First it's the big, bad child-porn sites. Then it will be the big, bad anti-government sites. Then it will be the whole porn sector, then whole swathes of the internet that do not agree with 'company policy'. Like I said, I might have my tinfoil hat on over this, but the world seems to get a little closer to something out of a cyberpunk novel everyday.

My theory: "The Universal EEW!" (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349933)

Ok here is my theory, before everyone starts sounding the panic alarms. Child porn is the "Universal EEW", warez and pr0n have their supporters, and I don't think many ISPs would survive without either. I do not think this is a slippery slope, our press is too free and the public is too vigilant for it to happen. The main reason is competition. However, if there is only one company to get your services from, they can do whatever they want.

Not the first.. (2, Interesting)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9349939)

BT apparently is doing this not as a wholesale provider, but at the ISP level. They're certainly not the first to do so. Especially in the UK there has been massive blocking of usenet groups for example, I don't remember the specifics, but Demon Internet was derided for being the only ISP *not* blocking newsgroups (or the other way around really, this was years ago).

In my own neck of the woods, even the widely held as enlightened, geek-run, freedom-of-information-positive provider xs4all blocks kiddy porn newsgroups on usenet. And there are multiple "Christian" themed providers that provide an internetfeed that is filtered beyond belief (usually using some sort of server-side implementation of wildly inaccurate blacklists like netnanny); most public primary/secondary schools also get filtered (if any) access.

It's a matter of consumer choice really. At least BT (and the aforementioned "Christian" themed/school ISPs) are upfront about it. And let's hope the "error message" people get does inform people how to get innocent sites delisted.

Now, if BT was doing this as a part of their wholesale operations, that would be A Bad Thing.

I know for a fact that BT subsidiaries like to restrict their internal networks a whole lot; even browsing to another ISP's webmail is blocked, on the theory you might receive or send some (*gasp*) non-work related e-mails. That's pretty evil (not to mention counter-productive).
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